University of Mississippi

UM gets $1M for energy research

By ALYSSA SCHUGG
Staff writer

The Department of Energy has awarded $1 million to the National Center for Physical Acoustics at the University of Mississippi.

“These funds represent a significant investment in energy conservation costs research in Mississippi nationwide,” U.S. Rep. Travis Childers said in a written statement, “With this grant, the University of Mississippi will be better able to devote its innovative resources to the research and development of energy alternatives to reduce our country’s dependency on foreign oil and strengthen national security. “

The Center has been researching the use of wind farms as an alternative for electrical power. A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location. Individual turbines are connected with a medium voltage power collection systems and communications network.  At a substation, the current is increased in voltage with a transformer for connection to the high voltage transmission system.

A large farm may consist of a few dozen to several hundred individual wind turbines.

John Seiner, director of the center, said the funds will help the center in its research to device ways to reduce or eliminate turbines and gear boxes from being damaged or destroyed by unexpected, strong wind gusts by researching ways to predict gusts and protect the turbines and gear boxes.

The turbines are designed to handle certain winds, but wind gusts can surpass what’s expected,” Seiner said. “Most of these turbines are in remote areas.  When one breaks, you have to bring in a crane and that can cost half a million dollars just to fix it.”

The funds will also help aid research on the noise levels wind farms can produce. Some living near the farms have complained of not being able to sleep, headaches and inner ear problems caused by the infrasound coming from the turbines. The center is researching ways to lower the infrasound waves produced by wind farms.

“You can’t hear the infrasound,” Seiner said. “It’s too low for the human ear. But they can make you feel bad.”

alyssa@oxfordeagle.com
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